It’s that time of year when everyone is busily planning all the amazing things they are going to do over the next 12 months – and, by now, have often actually got started. Some people have already fallen off the wagon too! Those people who promised themselves they would eat healthily, start exercising daily and give up one or more bad habits sometimes don’t even get to the end of the first week. Why?
There are many reasons, but they mostly boil down to two key issues:
1. You don’t want whatever ‘it’ is enough
I used to spend a lot of time working with clients on their goals and usually found their first attempt littered with ‘should’ and ‘ought to’. If any of your goals feature these words “I should do more cold calling”, “I ought to spend more time on my social media marketing”, “I should take a break when I have lunch and do some exercise before eating.” These are all examples of someone else influencing your thinking. This might be a friend, colleague or family member, or it might be something you’ve read or heard in the media, but until you really want to do it – FOR YOURSELF – it will be one of those things that keep getting ‘parked’ to do later.
2. You haven’t broken ‘it’ down into do-able tasks
If you’re planning a holiday you’ll almost certainly have a list of things to do from researching possible destinations all the way through to things to pack, encompassing checking what jabs you need, that your passport is up to date and more. Unfortunately, most of us don’t apply this approach to the other areas of our lives.
It’s easy to drift along with a few goals in mind, but they’re just such big things that they can appear overwhelming – until you break them down into things to do that move you in the right direction. It’s a bit like going to a supermarket with no list and no idea what to buy, actually it’s worse as you don’t even have the visible things in front of you to help. With just a big outcome to achieve it’s only to easy to put off getting started. However, if you follow Alan Lakein’s ‘Swiss Cheese’ approach (poking holes in your big tasks) you’ll start to make headway.
Goal setting should not really be an exercise that you carry out once a year; your goals should be reviewed regularly (monthly or quarterly) to check progress and make adjustments, to review goals, add new ones and make decisions about whether those you haven’t started yet are still really that important. When you’ve identified your 8-12 most important goals, break each one down into a list of things to do and a deadline to have done it by, then put each of these tasks into your diary and allocate a reasonable amount of time to do them. I use Workflowy.com to keep track of what I have on my action plan, but you could use an Outlook system, a paper list or anything else that works for you. The secret is to do it!
If someone says to you ‘What do you want?’ it’s hardly surprising if your mind goes completely blank and you can’t think of anything much except trivial purchases. However, if you are given some guidance to get started you’re much more likely to be able to get started. If I asked you “What would you like the monthly turnover or profit to be in your business this year?” you could probably give me a figure. The next steps are to work out:
- What activities would generate that income/profit?
- How many hours of your time would you have to invest in doing the work to get that level of income/profit?
- What actions would you have to take to generate enough enquiries to get that business?
For many people they get as far as the monthly figure, but stop there and so it never happens (I know this because I’ve done it myself and I know lots of other business people who have done it too!)
I joke that New Year’s Resolutions should be called New Year’s Revolutions – because they keep coming around again every year; but ‘Revolution’ has more than one meaning – if you want a revolution in your business, try using some of these ideas and schedule success into your diary!
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